RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – As another school year starts, COVID-19 is still spreading.

Tuesday, the Wake County School Board discussed the health plan for students this year.

Kira Kroboth’s sons are enjoying the last few weeks of summer. Later this month, they’ll go back to school in-person for the first time since 2020.

“I have three boys, all three are high-risk because they have an autoimmune disease, and one of them is particularly high-risk with an airway abnormality,” she said.

Her big question? “How do we keep them safe with the guidance we’ve been given?”

The school district is recommending, but not requiring masks, and asking families to report COVID-19 cases to the school and quarantine when they test positive.

The district will no longer offer optional weekly testing at school but will provide families with at-home tests if students or staff have symptoms.  

District staff also talked about cleaning practices and filters in HVAC systems.

Multiple board members brought up concerns about high-risk children, too.

“This is not, ‘The sky is falling,’ scenario, but this is not an ‘Everything’s just fine; get over it,’ scenario,” Dr. Jim Martin said, describing the balancing act between living with COVID-19, and protecting those who are vulnerable. “We’ve got to find that middle ground, and that middle ground is particularly challenging for folks with special needs.”

Martin also noted that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has specific guidelines to protect students who are high-risk for severe COVID-19 illness.

“Students with special needs need to be in-person too,” Christine Kushner said. “I hope our educators and staff are encouraging masking when it’s protective to students.”

Some board members brought up outdoor lunch. Kroboth said a crowded cafeteria is one of her biggest concerns for her high-risk children, but she said outdoor lunch isn’t an option at every school.

“Some schools have great outdoor seating, some schools said ‘no.’ Some schools are getting parent volunteers. The problem is we can’t choose what school we go to,” she said.

Kroboth has written a letter, that’s circulating on social media, asking the board to protect high-risk children, and to put more specific policies in place that correspond with community spread or outbreaks in schools.

“I’m not asking for every kid to wear a mask every day,” Kroboth said.

District staff said its working closely with the county health department, but did not give specifics as to how policies or recommendations could change if the level of community spread changes.